The rise of experiential travel: How is the industry adapting?

Jan 18, 2019 · 4 min read
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‘Life’s too short’. It’s an age-old saying, but never has it been more timely; and as our work/life balance becomes increasingly blurred, it’s a motto that more and more of us are choosing to live by. No more so than when it comes to our holiday habits. In the world of travel and tourism, consumer attitudes are changing, and the industry must adjust with them. Since 2014, the amount spent by travellers on tours, attractions, events and activities has increased by a massive 21%[1]. Experiential travel is a trend that continues to gain momentum — and in 2019 it’s set to explode. Vado explores.

Next level travel

These days we’re valuing the little time we have more than ever, and so when it comes to our travels, a growing number of us are looking to spend it truly experiencing a place on a local and cultural level. Not content with simply being in another country, visiting its landmarks or enjoying its beaches, experiential travellers are looking to return home with something more than a photo album, but a lasting and shareable skill, or the learnings from an activity steeped in history or tradition.

According to recent data, 67% more travellers chose to book outdoor activities in 2018 than in 2017 — things like glacier hiking, bungee jumping, scuba diving, and mountain biking. Classes in skills such as cooking and painting jumped by 61%, and 59% more travellers decided they’d rather engage in a cultural excursion or a historically-themed tour than sit by the bar or relax on the beach[2]. The figures speak for themselves — and it’s forcing the industry to take note.

Great expectations

With the rise of experiential travel comes an increasing demand on the industry from travellers who want to take control of each element of a trip, and personalise it into a completely unique experience. A change that first spiked with the millennial generation –growing up with rising new technologies and services across a number of industry channels –these are trends that will only accelerate as a growing number of older travellers become comfortable with the technology that’s currently available, and that will drive even greater innovation down the line.

Currently, this is being met by big online travel agencies and companies within the industry, such as TripAdvisor Inc., Expedia Group Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. who have recently opted to add and sell more experiences online — an area of travel that has otherwise remained largely independent. And yet, for a truly unique experience, what travellers really want is a direct route to arranging their trips with the merchant. According to travel-research company Phocuswright, about 80% of experiences are currently booked through walk-ups, phone, traditional travel agencies, and hotel concierges[3]; a greater online presence actually risks less available choice for the consumer within an area of the industry that will consequently become more centralised.

A solution to suit

What the rise of experiential travel reiterates is that travellers want greater flexibility, more choice and a more personalised trip that’s in their control.

Packaging up experiences is not going to satisfy this demand. In fact, here at Vado, we see the opposite as true. The OTA route to travel is already falling out of favour with many travellers. Flash deals and alerts of limited availability, news of fake or sponsored reviews, overly publicised destinations, coupled with a lack of choice and transparency, have undermined confidence in online travel agencies, and as the trend for experiential travel rises, these are factors that travellers are even more concerned with overcoming in order to experience something unique.

Vado provides a platform that facilitates direct liaison between travellers and all manner of travel-related businesses, whether they’re hotels, attractions or experiences. It gives travellers the tools to plan their own trip instead of relying on travel agents, offers honest user-generated content, and a creative approach to travel booking.

As a multi-purpose travel app it means travellers can save, sort and share their inspiration, itineraries and experiences in a single place, while seeking everything they’re looking for from other users, friends, and businesses — a key feature for travellers looking to create unique itineraries. Built on honest, user-based content, travellers can browse through reliable reviews left by peers (and governed by the community) for the ultimate DIY approach to ensuring unforgettable experiences.

As a community of like-minded travellers armed with trustworthy content, Vado is set to create a fairer travel ecosystem, contesting the centralised nature of the industry today, for greater choice, fairer deals and better experiences all round.

Give it a go! Head over to the website to receive an early bird invitation to the Vado app, or visit us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more.




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